New Genre: Retro Evolved
Monday, September 8, 2008 at 2:29PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Genre, Geometry Wars, Mega Man

As the video gaming industry continues to grow and new, creative ideas are put into production, new genres are bound to develop. Although I tend to only classify a video game by genre according to its gameplay, the definition is much more lenient.

1. a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: the genre of epic poetry; the genre of symphonic music. (

Now, approximately 3 generations from the N.E.S. era, many developers are looking back to the games of our past and breathing new life into them. The type of games that results from such an endeavor represents multiple eras of gaming in a single product. This is the essence of the relatively new genre Retro Evolved.


A Retro Evolved game isn't the same as a remake or a sequel with graphical or gameplay improvements. A Retro Evolved game is one that takes on the design decisions and conventions of a game that are reflective of a previous era regardless if such conventions have been evolved, upgraded, or abandoned. Additionally, the game must also incorporate design elements and conventions from the present that may layer together or contrast with the old conventions. The result is a game that feels like a refurbished, antique table. It's new and old at the same time.

There are several games already in this genre.


It may be a simple 2D game, but this little mixture of Asteroids and Galaga is incredibly good looking (for what it is) and super fun to play for one minute or 60. And yes, it's a little reminiscent of Fantasvision, only it's like $5 instead of $49. Snap!


If you're looking for a throwback to the Space Invader days with the futuristic colors and sound of the powerful 360, this is your game. It's not the equivalent to buying a full $50 game. No, it's a small arcade game with no big features, FMV, or wild multiplayer levels.

It's old school. Just hit start and go. No intricate menus, no cutscenes, and nothing fancy, but it doesn't really need to be. Pure and simple.

Fast-paced action is both easy to get into and fun. Fantastic controls and, dare I say, more fun than Pac-Man.

Finally, there's Bionic Commando Rearmed. This recreation of Bionic Commando for the N.E.S. is up for review here at Critical-Gaming. Choosing to retro-evolve a game is risky because the retro and modern conventions can harmonize or clash with each other. The balance between the old and new schools of design is critical.


Will Bionic Commando Rearmed crash and burn at the bottom of a downloadable canyon at the hands of a retrofitted critic? Or will it escape into the Bionic Arms of the great games of 2008 reminding us all there there's still something classy about the classics? Tune in tomorrow. Same Critical-Time. Same Critical-Place.

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
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